Announcement: The country will mark the Zhabdrung Kuchoe (death anniversary of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal) on April 16 in a different way this year, as it is the 400th year of Zhabdrung’s arrival in the country.

Announcing this at the end of a successful 11th mid-term review of Paro dzongkhag yesterday, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that the naming ceremony of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey will be held on Zhabdrung Kuchoe at the Pungthang Dewachenpoi Phodrang (Punakha Dzong).

“I’m pleased to inform you that His Royal Highness The Gyalsey will receive his name on the day at Punakha,” Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay said.

The Prime Minister also announced the government’s decision to revise the salary and incentives for mask dancers and dancers across the country.

The government approved a 135 percent increase in stipend for Dhodhams, champoens and chamjubs (head and lead mask dancers) and tsipoems (lead singer and dancer) from Nu 10,200 per annum to Nu 24,000 with a monthly entitlement of Nu 2,000.

The stipend for mask and folk dancers is increased to Nu 1,500 a month and Nu 18,000 a year from Nu 7,650 a year, an increase of 135 percent.

The dancers will be entitled to a raised daily sustenance allowance (DSA) at par with local government functionaries of Nu 300 for mask and folk dancers. Dhodhams, champoens, chamjubs and tsipoems are now entitled to Nu 500 DSA.

The raise will have a financial implication of Nu 23.1 million annually to the government.

Lyonchoen said that government took the decision after the local governments recommended for a raise.

Finance minister Namgay Dorji said their stipend was last revised in 2010.

“We revised the stipend considering their contribution to preserving our tradition and culture,” Lyonpo Namgay Dorji said.

The raise was calculated to allow the mask and folk dancers overcome the inflation since the last raise.

The revision comes at a time when local governments from across the country are raising alarms on the dearth of mask and folk dancers that threaten the existence of the tshechus and rituals in the communities.

Tshering Palden